John Dewey: building a model Swiss railway in the garage

John Dewey describes features of the model Swiss railway he is building in his garage at home in Oxfordshire.

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But I’m back into a quite different railway system now, into HO 1:87 Swiss prototype, so I’m mad keen on Swiss – Swiss railways are my big interest in life, one of my big interests in life so I’m building one at the moment in the – I’ve got a big double garage which we built when I first came to Oxford and I’ve got a billiard table in the middle – a snooker table in the middle and all around the outside I’m developing this big Swiss HO layout [laughs]. Of course Switzerland has – Switzerland is in a sense a railway enthusiast’s paradise, A) the Swiss railways have wonderful track systems, if you’ve ever been on a Swiss train you’ll know that the railways are incredibly smooth, they’re – they’re beautifully laid track and the suspensions on the carriages are wonderful, it’s like riding on a cloud of cotton wool, you know, it’s marvellous. So first of all they have a wonderful railway system and very efficient trains, always on time, they have a wonderful variety of locomotives and carriages and most importantly it runs through wonderful scenery and particularly the ones around the edges of the mountains and through the mountains, the Gotthard Tunnel and all the big tunnels and so forth. And the geology of that is very exciting and I’ve always been interested in the geology of Switzerland quite a lot so what I’m gradually doing is – is building a – it’s mostly track work at the moment ‘cause you have to do that first, you’ve got to get the track right, all running perfectly, all wired perfectly, all the signals and everything, then you can start building the scenery ‘cause you can’t do the scenery and then, you know, do the wiring and the tunnels afterwards. So you’ve got to get all the track perfect to begin with. So I’ve got it all planned and it’s going to be – I’ve already built bits of scenery here and there, some rock cuttings and things. I’m trying to make it really accurate and I’m using rock castings, user rubber castings of actual rocks, actual rocks are too heavy of course to put on the layout so I – I make these plaster moulds, thin plaster moulds and they go onto Styrofoam ‘cause you use Styrofoam and various other things so I’m trying to make scenery as close as I can to that of the Bern Lötschberg Simplon railway that runs from Bern to Brig through the Alps, so up through Spirals and Kandersteg and places like that and with fold – big folds and faults and things like that, quite accurate geology, I’m trying to make the geology as accurate as I can possibly possibly make so that’s – there is a nice relationship with my geology there.

  • Interviewee John Dewey
  • Duration 00:02:24
  • Copyright British Library Board
  • Interviewer Paul Merchant
  • Date of interview 8/2/2012
  • Shelfmark C1379/83

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